I don't know where this came from originally, but I think it's hysterical! Those are my kind of Christmas lights!

Well, its official. Its December and Christmas season is officially, undeniably here.

Show of hands: Who is done all their shopping, baking, wrapping and decorating?

[sounds of crickets chirping]

Who has started?

Oh? That many, eh? Darn, I need to get cracking…

Well moving right along, December 1st is usually my official day to start, (yes I am late…) so with that in mind I have polled 3 fabulous women who are far more creative and talented than me to help us all out with 3 quick tips for fashion, décor and baking.

First up, the yummy stuff courtesy of Julie Van Rosendaal. Her delectable blog over at Dinner with Julie is the source of my extra 5 pounds this fall and she graciously gave us these tips.

  • Pick up baking pans from the dollar store – they come in packs of 3 at Dollarama – to bake squares and loaves in, then package in cellophane for gift-giving.
  • If you want to freeze baked goods ahead, try freezing uncut squares. Line baking pans with tin foil (which makes it simple to then lift the whole thing out once cooled) wrap and freeze. Stacked, they’ll take up less room in the freezer, and because they’re uncut there’s less surface area to be exposed to air, which could cause freezer burn.
  • Try mixing up several batches of icebox cookie dough to stash in the freezer, or hand out at a cookie exchange. Because they have the same baking time, you can slice off a few from each log and bake them together for an assortment of freshly baked cookies whenever a craving hits.

Here’s where I’m going to accuse her of being an over-achiever because she actually gave me one too many:

  • If you don’t have time to make mince tarts, try swapping jarred all-fruit mincemeat for the filling in date squares, or in place of jam in simple thumbprint cookies.

Next up is the frank and fashionable Kim Flanagan of www.kimflanagan.com. I bought a one hour consultation with her in a charity silent auction last year and I’m still using the great advice she gave me! Here are her three holiday quickies:

  •  Try a red lipstick – way less expensive than a new dress and packs more wow factor for sure!
  • Red Lips

  •  Wear your hottest shoes! Stand out and up!
  •  Don’t forget to change your purse; a pretty clutch can put you in the party mood. Remember, credit card, phone and lipstick are all a girl needs.

Need a bit more help and want Kim all to yourself for a bit? You can book shopping appointments with her through Southcentre Mall via info@southcentremall.com.  You can also find Kim at the Plaza Theatre on February 5th where  her Church My Style is putting on a screening of Miss Representation.

And last, but not least, we get some design inspirations from Georgia Martin, principal of Creative Touch and part of the Calgary Design Group that does beautiful things to the Lougheed House for their Christmas through the House event each November.  Disclaimer; she is also my fab mother in law! She takes my awkward design attempts and makes them work!

  • Baubles, baubles baubles! Christmas tree balls in a clear glass bowl or vase make a cheery & festive impact. Chose one “theme” colour for a more sophisticated look, or use all the colors of the rainbow for something more punchy and fun.
  • Christmas Baubles

  • Take branches and large twigs from trees (from the woods or your own yard) spray paint them gold or silver, plant them in a large outside pot. Add ribbons, baubles or birds or anything that catches your fancy.
  • Tie satin ribbons around your everyday décor such as candles, hurricane glass lanterns, chandeliers etc. It’s a small touch that contributes to a big Christmassy feel.

So there you go! Now go forth, eat, dress and decorate!